Need a break from foster care?

Respite is a much needed service to fostering families. It allows foster parents to take a break, which helps prevent burn out. Respite offers birth children of the foster home quality time with their parents. It also gives the foster children a break. Respite can sometimes provide the opportunity for foster children to spend time with other foster children; children they can relate to.

A poorly planned respite weekend can cause more stress for everyone involved; foster family, respite provider, and the foster children. Here are some tips for having a successful respite weekend.

Setting it up with a Social Worker

Contact your social worker well in advance of your respite date so he/she can have adequate time to find a respite family for you. Two weeks advance notice is usually a good amount of time to give. If you find your own respite provider, let the social worker know who you have chosen and get it approved.

Do your foster children know the respite family? To avoid further trauma, try to have a visit with the respite family beforehand. Sometimes this is not possible especially in emergency cases, but highly recommended.

Setting it up with the Respite Provider

When contacting the respite family make sure to clarify the drop off and pick up dates. Confusion and stress occur, for both the respite provider and the foster family, if arrival and departures times and dates are incorrectly communicated. Not a good way to end a restful weekend.

During your first phone contact, don't forget to mention any appointments or visits, to the respite provider. It would be extremely unfair to spring this information on them at the last minute.

If they are unable to make these appointments, you may choose to look for another provider, or speak with your social worker on rescheduling the appointments.

If conflicting schedules mean that visits may be missed, it's in the birth family's best interest if another provider is searched out. If this is impossible, again, contact your social worker on rescheduling immediately. Visits are the heart of the reunification process

Packing for Respite Care

When packing for your foster children, be sure to include enough clean clothes. Don't forget extra underwear and socks. For infants and toddlers too many diapers and wipes are better than not enough. It would not be fair if the respite provider had to go purchase more items because they were not given a sufficient supply to get through the weekend.

Have the children pick out a special toy or stuffed animal to help them at bed time. Putting together a small scrapbook might also help. The type you can slip pictures and photos into would be easiest to prepare. Include photos of birth family, foster family, friends and pets.

Making a Respite Packet

Consider making a respite packet. This is something you only have to make once. You could use a large zip lock bag. Type or clearly write a list of needed information. Include

  • the children's full names
  • birth dates
  • your name and numbers
  • the social worker's name and number, Dr.'s name and number
  • an emergency contact number for where you can be reached during the respite period.

It is also helpful to have a list of the daily schedule, fears, likes and dislikes of the children. This is especially helpful for babies and toddlers.

Make sure to note any allergies, and of course, any appointments scheduled during this respite period.

The packet also should include the child's health insurance information and "consent to treat" paperwork.

Write out instructions for any medication, and include a medicine log so the respite provider can document when the medication was given. It's also helpful to add a copy of the child's latest physical.

When you need respite, you only have to add medication to the packet, update appointment information (if any) and the kids are ready to go. This packet also comes in handy when going to doctor or dental visits as all needed paperwork is ready.

Preparation is the key to a great respite weekend. You can come back to the children relaxed and ready to get back to work serving your community, providing homes for children and helping families heal.

The Do's & Don'ts of Fingerprinting

If you are wanting to get respite providers fingerprinted, there are a few things you need to know first.

The first thing you need to do is call the Children's Hope office, not your Social Worker. Guen or Patty (846-4955) will be taking call from all areas. They will have the paperwork that you need.

You will receive two different pages. One page will be a Live Scan form that you will need to take with you to get printed, and the other is a 508 form (a Criminal Record Statement) that you do not take with you to get printed.

The potential respite provider needs to fill out the 508 form. If they check YES to any box, they will need to fill out the back of the form with a full disclosure of what has happened. The 508 then needs to be turned in to Patty by turning into the Gridley office, or sending it in the mail.

We also request that the potential respite providers be printed in either Chico or Sacramento at Community Care Licensing (CCL) (call the 800 number on the live scan form), or go to the UPS office in Yuba City 530/419-0634 (no appointment necessary), to prevent the amount of errors that we have encountered.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Patty at 846-4955.